Another day, another batch of patent lunacy. People keep asking us to comment on yesterday's story about Microsoft applying for two patents around RSS technology. The two patent applications, one for a content syndication platform and the other for finding and consuming web subscriptions in a non-RSS reader application, were both published yesterday by the USPTO. As with any patent application, there's no guarantee that either will be granted, but just the fact that Microsoft would apply for such patents says something about the system. Microsoft's Don Dodge (who has no relation whatsoever to the patents) does the best job we've seen summing up the situation, by basically saying Microsoft needs to file for these patents, or someone else will and later come back and sue Microsoft, potentially winning, say, $500 million for a totally obvious technology that was in widespread usage. As Dodge says, it's the patent lunacy defense, or as we like to call it, the need for nuclear stockpiling. Not to speak for Dodge, but I don't believe he's defending these patents, but just pointing out that if you're in Microsoft's shoes, it's the most reasonable thing to do, given the ridiculous mess that our patent system has become. The whole idea that you should need to file for patents on all sorts of stuff just to avoid later being accused of infringing on an obvious idea should be evidence enough that our patent system is in drastic need of a remake. So, yes, while both of these applications look ridiculous, the thing to blame is the patent system itself.
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